May 22, 2015

DIY Golf Projects, From The Sublime to The Ridiculous - #DIYFriday

Red Cottage Chronicles Golfers Bird House for Golfers
Fridays generally entail some degree of awesomeness, even when they fall in the dead of an icy winter; but at this time of year they're particularly alluring.

On summer Fridays, that time-worn TGI prefix transcends the standard five-day workweek population and reaches just about everyone. With a vibe that manages to be both relaxed and exciting, the possibilities seem endless.

Whether you're planning a languid round of twilight golf, a trip to the shore, or an air conditioned, indoor Mad Men marathon, a summer Friday seems to provide a special kind of incentive to just do it.
It's in that spirit that we're launching a summer series of #DIYFriday golf projects.  Each week we'll feature golf crafts and creations... hand-hewn golf gadgets and gizmos... from around the world.  Some may inspire you, while others may... um... scare you, but I have no doubt it'll be fun... on Fridays... to see what golfers are crafting.

I'm starting out with a unique item I discovered today on a favorite home decor blog of mine, Red Cottage Chronicles.  It's a birdhouse for golfers created as a birthday present for aguy who loves both golf and gardening... and apparently it's already occupied by a couple of avian golfers.

So this'll be the first of many #DYIFriday golf posts, and if you come upon something crafty and golfy I'd love to see it and share it here.  Happy #DYIFriday.

May 19, 2015

Celebrate The Summer Season With #BoozyTuesday Golf Cocktails

 Kentucky Mule - the perfect blend of bourbon, lime juice and muddled mint, topped off with a splash of Ginger Beer
With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching, it's time to start seriously seeking out... and celebrating... those ephemeral summer pleasures.

You know the ones I mean.  Picnics and BBQs, short shorts and flipflops... and those balmy rounds of twilight golf, that start in late afternoon and end in the gloaming, with greens and golf balls barely visible.

If you live in a continental climate like I do, these pleasures are particularly ethereal.  For me, a sense of urgency often accompanies the start of summer. I feel a pressing desire to savor every ambrosial moment, and drink in all the joy of the sunny season.

Speaking of drinks, cocktails are another sublime summer pleasure. While winter calls for the warmth of red wine, cognac and straight-up single malt, a festive frozen blend of juice spirits and soda, especially when garnished with fruit and flowers, is what I want right now... and for the coming three months.

To that end I'm launching a #boozytuesday summer golf cocktail series.  Each week on Tuesday, I'll be posting a golf-related cocktail recipe here, and on social media.  By golf-related I mean it just has to have some sort of vague connection to golf... it can be anything from the signature cocktail at a golf venue to a tipsy twist on the Arnold Palmer.  It doesn't have to be a hole-in-one. It might even be a Double Bogey.

If you have a golf-related cocktail you'd like to share, post it (photo and/or recipe) on Instagram or Twitter with hashtags #BoozyTuesday and #golf .  We'll feature the best here, and at the end of August, our top pick will win a prize. More on that later.

I'm starting this series off with one of my favorite drinks at this time of year. The Kentucky Mule. I had one of these recently at Cafe-on-the-Green and enjoyed every spicy sip.  Follow the link for an excellent Kentucky Mule recipe. Happy #BoozyTuesday.

May 7, 2015

5 Connecticut Courses That Challenge Golfers With Island Greens

With its massive purse and unofficial "fifth major" status, the Players Championship is a perennial favorite of golf fans, but it's certainly the iconic 17th hole... at TPC Sawgrass... that allows this tournament to transcend golf and capture the attention of the masses.

There's just something about an island green. The prospect of a sudden watery demise can play on the nerves of even the most experienced golfer...  and drama will often ensue.

It's a good bet there's not a golfer anywhere who's watched the Players Championship without imagining themselves poised on that 17th tee, aiming for the island.

If a trip to Ponte Vedre Beach isn't currently in the cards for you, chances are you may be able to find a island green right in your own home state because... contrary to popular belief... island greens aren't all that rare.

Though they're not a traditional feature of golf course architecture, they've become quite popular since the mid-20th Century.  In fact here in Connecticut, without doing much research, I've already discovered five, so you may want to see what your state has to offer.  Meanwhile for those living in, or traveling to, the "Nutmeg State" this summer, here's what I've found:

Vineyard Valley Golf Course • 34 Brayman Valley Road • Pomfret, CT - It used to be a vineyard, now it's a 9 hole golf course... and the finishing hole on this scenic, steeply sloped course is an island green.
"The ninth hole is what Gus Loos, the designer of the course, considered to be eastern Connecticut's answer to the famous island green at the 17th hole at Sawgrass in Florida. Playing anywhere from 120 to 160 yards, the green is fronted by a watery marsh that has been and will continue to be the graveyard of many a good score."  
Chanticlair Golf Course • 288 Old Hebron Road • Colchester, CT 06415 - The 9 hole Chanticlair Golf Course has been in operation since the early 1970's in the scenic town of Colchester.  The island experience greets golfers on the 4th hole here.  • • MORE CT ISLAND GREENS

Apr 23, 2015

Environmental Initiatives From Golf That Suburban Homeowners Can Use

Earth Week Comes as the first, shy signs of Spring finally arrive at my home in Connecticut
Here in New England, subtle signs of Spring have finally begun to show themselves.

After a six week snow siege that left our landscape relentlessly concealed in a blanket of white, the reemergence seems especially shy.

Hyacinths and Daffodils are providing the first jolts of color, while the Azalea blossoms still seem reluctant to make an appearance just yet.

My lawn looks the way I feel immediately upon waking from a particularly deep sleep; Tousled and out-of-it.

With Earth Week underway... yesterday was Earth Day... and the Spring growing season in its early stages, this may be the perfect time to consider some environmentally friendly changes to the way we work with our lawns and tend to our gardens.

It shouldn't be surprising (though I'm guessing it is, to many people) that some of the best ideas for creating a sustainable, eco-friendly... and beautiful... environment, come from the golf industry.  From innovative water conservation and fertilization methods, to turf reduction and wildlife habitat creation, golf course superintendents across the US and around the world are focused on sustainability.  Below you'll find 5 environmental initiatives from golf that can be easily applied to the average yard.  

1. Water Conservation - Water is a universal concern for today's course superintendents, and should be for landowners as well. Beneath the pristine fairways of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort runs a complex network of drains and pipes that stealthily collect the rain water that falls onto and around the greens, providing more than half the water needed to irrigate the course. Meanwhile, Pebble Beach Resort, uses 100% recycled water which has allowed them to avoid draining the coveted resource from municipal supplies.

An old fashioned rain barrel... or one of many modern versions... is a way for suburban homeowners to harvest skyjuice for their personal watering needs. The use of drought resistant grasses and plants, and the mulching of flower beds... both common practices at many golf courses today... is another way to conserve H2o in the home garden.

2. Natural Fertilizer/Pinpoint Pest Control - Just 90 minutes north of NYC lies the enchanting Mohonk Mountain Resort, home to the massive Victorian castle known as Mohonk Mountain House... and to one of the oldest golf courses in the US.  The resort has put into place an extensive composting program that converts food waste into fertilizer for use on the historic 9 hole course.  Their pest management program is distinguished by daily hands-on scouting of the course to pinpoint hotspots and gauge outbreaks, allowing a much more targeted response and substantially reducing the use of pesticides.  Both of these initiatives can quite easily be put into place in a home garden and offer an excellent way to engage younger family members.

3. Wildlife Habitat Creation - By incorporating garden space that improves habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife, The Golf Club at Ballantyne in Charlotte, NC, is recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Learn how to take some of the same steps in your own backyard by visiting the NWF website.

Westchester Country Club, which will host the world's top women golfers at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship in June, has restored a nearly extinct bluebird population with the installation of bird boxes, and eliminated the need for chemicals like copper, by adding algae-eating White Amur Carp to some of their water features.

4. Turf/Lawn Reduction - Pinehurst Resort cut the irrigated acreage back from 90 to 50 acres during its restoration of Pinehurst No.2, which substantially reduced the need for mowing, irrigation and chemical use.  The typical suburban expanse of lawn can often be reduced by creating no-mow zones in appropriate places and allowing a more natural backdrop to that carpet of green velvet. It's environmentally sound and certainly makes for a less arduous mowing day.

5. A New Outlook - As Golf Course superintendents work to make the courses we play more sustainable, one of their biggest challenges... it turns out... is persuading golfers that a course need not be wall-to-wall carpeted with soft, lush, emerald green to be fun and challenging to play on, and beautiful to look at.  It would behoove home gardeners to shift from fixating on a perfect green lawn the neighbors will envy, to creating an attractive natural space that can be maintained without undue strain on the environment.

These days, having a yard that looks like a golf course may actually be good for the environment.

Apr 17, 2015

Lilly Pulitzer Owns This Weekend, On The Golf Course & At Target Stores

On Course With Lilly via GolfGirl on Polyvore

From the coastal galleries at Harbour Town Golf Links, to the bustling aisles of Target stores everywhere, expect to see more than a touch of whimsy this weekend.

Lilly Pulitzer's fanciful prints, in sun-kissed color palettes that bring to mind a tropical fruit salad or a breezy beach-side bungalow, will shine this weekend at the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage tournament in Hilton Head, SC.

image & quote via
At this much-loved post-Masters event, plaid may rule... but Lilly will reign. In fact, local fashionistas have called this tournament the best Lilly fashion show anywhereand one Hilton Head haberdasher is hosting a Lilly Pulitzer Heritage Photo Contest. If you're on site in Harbor Town you may wish to grab something Lilly and enter... if not you can vote for your favorite look. View the submissions throughout the weekend on Instagram, with the #lillylovesheritage hashtag.

More monumental for those who love Lilly, is this weekend's debut of the much-anticipated, limited edition Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection.  Somewhat controversial... as are all things that make the exclusive more accessible... the collaboration has sparked consternation in those who feel the lower Lilly price points at Target ($35ish vs $180ish, for a shift dress, for example) cheapen the brand and devalue their past Lilly investments. There was also a bit of a brouhaha when it was revealed that the plus-sized pieces in the Pulitzer collection would only be sold on-line. However, both imbroglios seem to have dissipated in the frothy anticipation that will likely see Lilly lovers camping out in front of Target stores in the wee hours of Sunday morning when the collection is slated to go on sale.

In honor of this thoroughly Lilly weekend... and with a nod to my passion for golf... I created the above montage featuring some Lilly Pulitzer golf-inspired items I've admired over the years. Yes, I'm officially a Lilly lover. Happy Weekend.

Apr 16, 2015

Masters Virginity Lost... In A Screaming Spiethgazim!

Cathleen Hannigan  
So, I'm officially heading back to work after a heavenly masters week golf vacay with my twin sister Patricia (who you know as Golf Girl) and her dedicated husband Nick, who I refer to as her "other-other half". ~ It was a superlative experience from the start, with practice round spectating at the ethereal Augusta National, followed by a stay and play at the lovely and historic Pinehurst Resort.

While watching the round and playing some beautiful courses, I thought of a new term to describe my condition prior To April 6th 2015: I was a "Masters Virgin"!  Hoping it was an original title, but suspecting it was not, I immediately googled it... and just as I thought, my moniker was far from unique.

I found an early example... dating back to 2001... when sports columnist Tim Guidera, used it in a piece about first timers at the storied tournament . In 2012 John Garrity of casually dropped it into an article about the best places to view the Masters.

Then I discovered that the eloquent Tony Korogolos was no stranger to the term either, Mr. Korogolos of the long-running blog, Hooked on Golf is also credited with inventing the term Spiethgazim... specifically "premature spiethgazm"... to describe how, in their continuing quest to coronate a successor to an increasingly tenuous Tiger, the golf media collectively erupted in frothy obsession for Justin Spieth after his first round 64.  In the end, however, Mr Korogolos conceded that Spieth is the real deal.

And to hear the screams of excitement from the audience... myself included... while Mr. Spieth worked his magic in the final round, I think I can officially declare that I lost my Masters Virginity with a Screaming Spiethgazim!  Well, I'm pretty sure that line is original... and needless to say, the experience was beyond thrilling. 

Apr 12, 2015

Of Stellar Pairings and Historical Possibilities: Happy Masters Sunday.

Six days ago, at the start of Masters week, it was anyone's guess.  It always is, early on.

That the final round leaderboard features such names as Woods, McIlroy, Mickelson and Spieth is certainly enough to satisfy the highest hopes of many. While the Woods-McIlroy pairing probably packs the highest level of star power, Jordan Spieth's dominance during the first three rounds... and his history-making potential to break Tiger Woods' 72-hole record... has the world rather riveted. To say the least.

Today promises to be a fabulous final round, one that'll most definitely be remembered, though once again, exactly what will happen is anyone's guess.

So sit back, preferably with a pimento cheese sandwich, and enjoy your Masters Sunday.